Liverpool War Graves

The six cemeteries that are run by Liverpool City Council contain over 2,500 headstones that are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). These are graves marked by the recognisable white headstone, which is more often than not made from Portland stone.

Liverpool war graves

The CWGC was formed as the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1917 to ensure all those service personnel lost in the Great War would have their graves marked and maintained in perpetuity. This was later extended to the Second World War and the CWGC now maintains 1.7 million grave sites in 150 countries across six continents.

The CWGC employ strict qualifying criteria. Their policy states that they will commemorate people who served in the Commonwealth armed forces during the First or Second World War, whose death occurred during the official war period and
was the result of wounds inflicted or accident occurring during active service, disease contracted or commencing while on active service or disease aggravated by active service.

When thinking of war deaths, cemeteries in Northern France consisting of row after row of pristine white headstones may spring to mind. However if you take a walk around any Liverpool cemetery, or indeed most churchyards , it will not take long to spot a CWGC headstone.

It is an extremely sad fact that so many of those killed in active service did not die on the battlefield. Royal Air Force deaths during military training exercises were not uncommon in the Second World War and this is reflected in many of the Liverpool war graves. An example in Anfield Cemetery is William Geoffrey Walker, who in 1944 was the co pilot of a Horsa glider involved in exercises in Wiltshire preparing for the Allied invasion of Europe. The glider crashed on hitting a tree in low cloud as part of Exercise Dreme in Wiltshire. All 27 on board the glider were killed, wiping out a whole platoon of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. Also in Anfield is 17 year old Mabel McDonald of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, who was knocked down and killed by a car during the blackout.

During the First World War many died of illnesses picked up in cramped conditions in the trenches or on board ships. Many of these will have been sent away from the Front for treatment nearer home, but failed to recover. With Liverpool being a port city, there are casualties from Commonwealth countries who have been admitted to hospital on arrival in the city rather than continue their journey to France of Belgium. An example in Kirkdale Cemetery is Rangitauwira Wiremu (pictured), of the New Zealand Maori pioneer battalion.  He was a 24 year old married farmer from Wanganui who enlisted in February 1918 and sailed for Liverpool on the Ulimaora. However he got sick on the voyage and died just two days after its arrival.

A network of volunteers inspect CWGC’s headstones on a cyclical basis. At Sarsfield Memorials any enquiries we receive regarding maintenance or repair of a CWGC headstone would always be referred to them. It goes without saying that they use in house specialists or approved contractors for any work carried out on their headstones. Sustainability is another key concept for the CWGC, using environmentally friendly materials and always looking to repair, only replacing if absolutely necessary. Further details about the methods used for headstone maintenance can be found here.

Obituary – Terry Sarsfield

The following obituary for Terry Sarsfield was first published in the newsletter of the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM).

terry sarsfieldTerry Sarsfield, 89 years, passed peacefully on 27th December 2022. Terry was a traditional craftsman who served his apprenticeship in Carrara Italy in the 1950s, learning all aspects of the craft of Stone Carving and Stone Masonry. On his return to the UK he worked alongside his father and two elder brothers in the family Monumental Masons – Sarsfield Memorials, the oldest family-run Monumental Masons in Liverpool.

Working right through into his mid 70’s alongside his youngest daughter Ursula, who now runs the business. Terry’s skills can be seen daily all over Liverpool from listed buildings in the City, Churches, Stately Homes and Cemeteries. Terry continued on, after his retirement at 75 years, to be an invaluable resource for stonemasons and architects across the UK.

Although being trained in traditional craftsmanship, Terry was an innovative Mason, who whilst President of NAMM (50 years ago) worked hard to foster relationships between professionals, nurturing mutual support networks across both the UK and abroad. Linking small family run masonry and memorial businesses with engineers, architects and larger industrial stone manufacturers.

He was a promoter of technical development in the trade, one of the early adopters of the (at the time), revolutionary INCIMAR lettering machines which elevated the speed of response for memorial work. He later worked alongside engineers at INCIMAR as a consultant helping to advise on the design of letterforms to retain and expand the qualities of lettering craftsmanship which he had such a passion for.

Terry went on to become the UK representative for INCIMAR, supporting Masons across the UK in their transition from hand lettering to more modern methods, Ursula is now the UK representative for INCIMAR. In the 1970’s he worked with engineers to develop one of the first large scale, walk-in sandblasting units for working on complex Memorials, later advising Masons across the country on how the techniques he explored might serve their needs.

Whilst President of NAMM, in recognition of both his efforts to foster links between the UK Masons and international Stone Industries and for his bringing together of international Stonemasonry expertise, in support of renovation work on the City’s Castle and Capuchin Monastery, he was made Honorary Freeman of the Medieval City of Rapperswil, Switzerland.

Terry valued the idea that professionals should provide a mutual support network, particularly in changing and challenging times. He knew the value of family and the family approach to embracing differences and looking out for each other. Bringing this mindset to his Professional work, he retained his hugely approachable attitude; dispensing guidance, advice and support, freely to Masons whenever approached.

Terry SarsfieldThroughout his later years, no longer able to cope with the physical aspects of the trade, Terry acted as a professional consultant to Masons and Architects, providing insights and solutions to a myriad of Memorial and Masonry technical problems.

Throughout his involvement with NAMM, from the early days when it was a voluntarily run supportive organisation, through to his later Presidentship and onwards into the influential and professionally driven organisation it is today, Terry promoted the need to bring together innovation and craftsmanship, hand in hand with an empathetic understanding of the needs of customers, fellow craftsmen and the industry as a whole.

Given the vast range and depth of his knowledge and the huge number of connections he had fostered over the years, both nationally and internationally, he will be greatly missed. Terry Sarsfield leaves behind May, his wife of 63 years, and three children.

Sefton Council Cemeteries Update

Sefton Council in Merseyside has recently sent an update to memorials masons. This is regarding some important safety tests that are being carried out in cemeteries across the borough, as well as the increasing use of scatter tubes when interring cremated remains.

Sefton council cemeteries

The council maintain four cemeteries at Bootle and Thornton in the south of the borough, in addition to Duke Street and Liverpool Road (photo left) in the Southport area. Testing is now underway at all sites to ensure headstones can withstand a certain amount of pressure.

Regular checks on headstones is essential not just so that those visiting graves in the cemetery remain safe. The local authority also has a duty of care to gardeners, masons an other workers under the Health & Safety at Work Act.

Any headstones that are deemed unsafe will be laid flat. It will be the responsibility of the grave owner to have them re-fixed to the BS8415 standard, which set minimum lengths of anchoring.

Sefton Council have also noticed that they are coming across more and more the use of scatter tubes when cremated remains are being interred. These biodegradable tubes are an eco-friendly way of putting ashes in graves, but there are implications for grave owners.

Due to their shape, scatter tubes have to be laid flat and less scatter tubes can be accommodated in graves than regular caskets. The council have asked masons to advise families of this when considering their options. If the plot is to be utilised to its maximum capacity, then families should consider using a regular casket or having he ashes poured direct from the scatter tube into the grave.

Sarsfield Memorials are licensed to work in Sefton’s four cemeteries. If you have any concerns over the safety of your memorial or the implications of using scatter tubes to inter ashes, please contact us and we will be happy to offer guidance.



Liverpool Council Memorial Mason’s Charter

In November 2022 Liverpool City Council updated the Memorial Mason’s Charter that must be adhered to by any masons working within their cemeteries. Within it are some important changes to what happens to memorials when burials take place in existing grave plots.
cemetary from afarOn the whole the updated charter reinforces regulations that are already in place requiring masons to adhere to strict safety standards so customers receive a high standard of service. One new process for masons is that they must now apply for a permit for each piece of work they undertake, submit risk assessments and demonstrate that any subcontractors employed will meet the required standards.

Although the updated charter means some extra administration for us at Sarsfield Memorials, it does not impact on our ability to deliver the high standards we have always strived to. However the charter also places the onus on customers to have a memorial removed, stored and re-fixed when there are additional interments in plots. Previously this work was carried out by the city council or by a mason and the memorial was left at the side of the grave. This is no longer allowed, it has to be removed from the cemetery.

For any burials that take place, it is now the grave owners responsibility to have any existing memorial removed by an approved mason. It must then be kept in storage for at least six months while the ground settles, before it is re-fixed and additional inscriptions added if required. If a memorial is on a concrete raft or a permanent foundation then it does not need to be removed. Generally the older the memorial, the more likely it will be that it needs removing. You are best to check with a mason, otherwise you may have a delay with the funeral.

There will be a cost implication for customers who request this service, we will of course endeavour to keep this to a minimum. Our understanding of why the council is now requesting the removal of memorials completely is in part due to the potential for damage by machinery while they are laid flat. It is also the case that there is often nowhere for them to go except over a neighbouring plot, causing a safety issue for families visiting graves.

There are however some changes in the Liverpool council memorial masons charter that offer flexibility to customers which is not available in cemeteries managed by other local authorities. Subject to approval and work being carried to specified standards by a registered mason, kerb sets are allowed in all Liverpool city council cemeteries. The council has also raised the height limit for memorials in newly created cremated remains sections from 3 foot 6 inches to 4 feet.

We understand that arranging a burial is a very difficult time and the additional task of memorial removal and storage can cause additional upset and stress. If you do have any queries however, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to offer guidance on the process.


Fox’s Bank Cemetery in Whiston, Merseyside, is owned by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council. It is where the majority of new burials facilitated by Knowsley’s cemeteries department take place.

Fox's Bank Cemetery

Opened in 1996, Fox’s Bank Cemetery is now the only cemetery in Knowsley where new plots can be purchased for regular burials and cremated remains . Although the local authority does maintain the cemetery at Prescot and churchyards in Huyton and Kirkby, interments can only take place in existing graves there.

Covering an area of twenty acres, Fox’ Bank Cemetery has been awarded national Green Flag status. This is in recognition of its well maintained green space, signage and amenities. There is an active Friends Group who help maintain the high standard of the cemetery grounds. There is no chapel at the cemetery and despite their best efforts, Whiston Initiative in Cultural Heritage have suffered a number of setbacks in their attempts to raise the necessary funds to erect a memorial building.

Only masons who adhere to National Memorial of Memorial Masons (NAMM) standards can work in the cemetery. There are also restrictions on memorial sizes, with the maximum height being 991mm, including plinths and foundations. Maximum width is 813mm and depth of base 410mm. As well as regular plots, there is a garden of remembrance at Fox’s Bank Cemetery where memorial plaques can be purchased on a renewable ten year lease.

Knowsley Council has looked to the future with respect to cemetery capacity. In July 2022 plans were approved to purchase twenty acres of land in Whiston Woods from the Forestry Commission. This is subject to planning permission being granted for cemetery expansion by adjoining St Helens Council and there is a covenant that the land will only be used for cemetery or woodland. It is expected this will provide the borough with enough burial plots for another 100 years.

Sarsfield Memorials, Liverpool’s longest running family run monumental mason business are licensed to work in Fox’s Bank Cemetery. We have been in operation for 75 years and if you are considering erecting a memorial at the cemetery, or renovating/repairing an existing one, please contact us. We will be happy to discuss your requirements and in most cases can provide a free no obligation quote.


We Continue Striving For Our Customers

At Sarsfield Memorials we always do all we can to meet customer requirements. There are occasions though when that simply is not possible, but we will always ensure our service standards and contractual obligations are met.

Black and white photo of a smart man from the 1950's

We have been a family run business for 75 years and current managing director Ursula Sarsfield is the granddaughter of founder James Sarsfield (pictured left). Ursula provides herself in being attentive to customer wishes and guiding them in choosing a fitting memorial for their loved one.

Sarsfield Memorials prides itself on the fact it rarely advertises. Most of our business comes from personal recommendation and we get a lot of repeat customers, who return to us when another family member has passed away and a memorial needs updating.

When we supply and fit memorials, it is not simply a process of taking one off the shelf, inscribing it and erecting it at the graveside. There are local authority forms to complete, permits to apply for and in the case of bespoke designs, materials have to be ordered and shipped in from overseas. Inevitably, there are times when customers are frustrated by this but we will always explain the stages of the process and work as quickly as we can to fulfil the order.

From the point of initial enquiry, we aim to provide a full no obligation quote within a week, more often than not it’s within a couple of days.

We also aim to respond to any phone or email enquiries regarding progress of orders within two days. There are times however when we cannot say too much within these replies except something along the lines of “We are waiting for the council to issue a permit and that takes up to 12 weeks” depending on the local councils due to staffing levels and their postal systems.

The Covid 19 pandemic has posed considerable challenges for monumental masons. A container crisis has led to a delay in the delivery of materials and further disruption was caused by a blockage in the Suez Canal when a ship got stuck. This has meant we have been unable to fulfil many orders as quickly and we are thankful that our customers have been understanding. We have also honoured original quotations, absorbing increased costs ourselves.

What we are unable to do, regardless of any Covid 19 issues, is change the size or design specifications of an order after it has been signed off and deposit paid. Once the material has been ordered from our suppliers, we cannot send it back and ask for another colour or tone, all the materials we use are natural so there will be variations and once material is cut to size any changes will occur a significant expense. We make this clear to all our customers in the confirmation letter and when we collect deposits.

Our valued customers can rest assured that we will continue to provide the highest levels of customer service. When things aren’t moving as quickly as we both would like, we will explain the reasons for this and we will always ensure our service standards are adhered to. As a customer, feel free to contact us for updates, sometimes you will get a quicker reply by you contacting us, rather than waiting for us to contact you.

Distance No Problem For Sarsfield Memorials

In the last few weeks Sarsfield Memorials have completed some orders for memorials in Liverpool’s cemeteries on behalf of clients who live far from the city and even on different continents. Despite the distances, we have still been able to complete the orders with efficiency and received wonderful feedback from satisfied clients.

Liverpool's cemeteries

Earlier this week the Liverpool Echo featured the heartwarming story of Carol Hisken, who died aged 78 last year in Aberdeen, She had moved there from Liverpool at the age of five after the death of her mother, who was buried in Everton Cemetery. When Carol visited her mother’s grave in 2015 she was beside herself to find there was no headstone.

Carol’s final wish was that her mother’s grave be appropriately marked and that her ashes be interred there when she passed away herself. Sarsfield have been pleased to help Carol’s daughter with this, installing a foundation and black granite ogee headstone that has inscriptions paying tribute to both ladies. Despite Aberdeen being 350 miles from Liverpool, we were able to conduct the whole ordering process smoothly by telephone and online.

Although there is a Perth in Scotland that is seventy miles closer to Liverpool than Aberdeen, it was Perth in Australia where we had another long distance customer. This time it was for a headstone at a cremation plot for a lady in Anfield Cemetery. Her daughter contacted us online and explained she would be home for a few weeks only and really wanted to be there when it was installed and her ashes interred. Again, we were able to complete the process and have the memorial ready for when she was back in Liverpool. She has kindly left a review on Google for us which says “We all couldn’t of been more happy with the service they provided us. Such an excellent team, Ursula was such a caring lady would definitely recommend her.”

Our next piece of long distance work is for a lady who now lives in Holland. Her mother’s grave in a Liverpool cemetery has never been marked but we have begun the process of installing a memorial there. Again, we have been able to do everything online in respect of the customer choosing the design and inscriptions.

Sarsfield Memorials have now been in operation for 75 years, with Ursula being the third generation to run Liverpool’s oldest family owned monumental mason business. We rarely advertise, relying on customer recommendation and reviews to gain clients. You can be rest assured from reading our reviews that we are trustworthy and make the process easy for you, wherever you are in the world.

If you are looking to install, renew or repair/renovate a memorial in any of Liverpool’s cemeteries please contact us. Regardless if you live in Liverpool, England or Liverpool, New South Wales, we will be more than happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.

One of Our Latest Baby Memorials

Getting commissions for baby memorials are among the hardest tasks a monumental mason can face. It requires us to show all our compassion and attentiveness to devastated parents, coupled with knowledge and experience. The aim of this is to provide an everlasting tribute to a life that was so short.

baby memorials

This year Sarsfield have installed a new headstone in Liverpool’s Allerton Cemetery for a client whose precious baby boy was born sleeping in May 2021. We worked with the family to come up with a cost effective and simple but bespoke design. Hopefully, it will bring them comfort when visiting his final resting place.

The memorial is a standard ogee shape with curved top, made from black granite. The etched epitaph above the baby’s name is a simple one, saying “Always loved, never forgotten”.

What makes this memorial stand out though is a colour laser etched lion cub, sat above the inscription. Advances in technology have made this process a very straightforward one, allowing us to add bespoke images to memorials that are treasured by families.

The headstone has been complemented by a kerb set which has been filled by blue chippings. In this case, the kerb set is a smaller size than many others you will see, as it is covering the grave space of a baby’s coffin. The grave plot though is a regular size, so the size of any kerbset  can be changed in future.

At Sarsfield Memorials we have a wide range of baby memorials available. We have been a family run business for 75 years and will work with you at a pace you are comfortable. We remain attentive to your needs and will not carry out any work until you approve the final design. Please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.


Back in the late 1960s, Liverpool Council announced plans to stop selling new grave plots at Anfield Cemetery, the largest in the city. They never went ahead however, with Sarsfield Memorials being very vocal in their opposition to such a move.

In November 1968 a report was presented to the Parks Department stating that there was not enough open space in the city. With the cemeteries account running at a deficit, it was recommended that the provision of new grave plots should be focused on Allerton and Everton cemeteries. Remaining space at Anfield Cemetery could then be converted for recreational use. One of the factors taken into consideration was the rock beneath Anfield Cemetery, which made graves more difficult to excavate.

Terry Sarsfield, who was then secretary of the Merseyside branch of the National Association of Master Monumental Masons, criticised the move. He told the Liverpool Echo on 6th January 1969 that there was sufficient land to provide new burials for twenty years. Dismissing the council’s concession that existing graves could still be opened for interments, Terry pointed out that some plots would be full but people would still want to be buried in the same cemetery as their family members.

Two weeks later, Terry went further with his criticism. He had a letter published in the Echo on 20th January 1969 asking if it was the eventual intention to remove all memorials and convert the whole cemetery to an open park. Terry also dismissed the suggestion that rock was a justification to justify the action. He pointed out that it only took half an hour more to excavate a grave there and that as Anfield’s losses were far smaller than four of the other five city cemeteries, yet the council intended to deprive itself of much needed income.

The only non critical element of Terry’s letter was his noting that the special burial provisions for Mohameddan and Chinese graves would be  transferred to Everton Cemetery. However he finished the letter with one last swipe, saying that no action had been taken to investigate the staining of graves peculiar to Anfield, which he believed was down to industrial fallout.

Liverpool Council pressed ahead with their plans, seeking an Act of Parliament which also included stopping the sale of new graves at Kirkdale and Toxteth cemeteries. They eventually performed a u-turn however. Today new graves continue to be made availaable at Anfield which is one of the largest municipal cemeteries in Europe.

Sarsfield Memorials Free Quotations Update

At Sarsfield Memorials we have always been happy to provide free no obligation quotations to anybody who makes an enquiry. Due to unprecedented rising fuel costs, we are now having to make some slight alterations to this process. However, in nearly all cases there will remain no charge to potential customers.

sarsfield family crest

It is straightforward enough to give quotes for new memorials, but that is not necessarily the case for an existing one that requires additional inscriptions or renovation. We are only able to give a quote we can be certain of honouring if we can see the extent of any repairs that may be required. With additional lettering for example, the area where they are to be added may need attention first, so it is not necessarily just a case of how much we charge per letter.

If a potential customer can send us a clear good quality recent photograph (i.e. within the last 3 months) of their memorial, then we can give a quote for works required based on this, normally on the same day. Images can be sent to us by email, WhatsApp or iPhone. We are also happy to provide free quotes for anybody who is happy to wait until we are working in a cemetery where their loved ones grave is situated. In some cases, the men may be in the cemetery that day or within a few days, some cemeteries we may only fix in once a fortnight, so if you are prepared to wait till the men are working in the cemetery then no charge will apply, we will always aim to get a quotation to you as quickly as possible.

However in some Churchyards or cemeteries in outlying areas of where we cover such as Southport or Wirral, we may only be there once a month or less. It is in situations like these where a customer does not want to wait until we are there carrying out work and instead a special visit is required, that we are now having to charge a fee prior to providing a quote. We will advise you at the time of your enquiry whether any fee is to be charged for visiting a cemetery.

This step is not something we are comfortable in taking. However the sharp rise in fuel prices in recent months has left us with no other choice. During the last two years we have held our prices despite increases in the cost of materials that are imported from China and India, caused by the global container crisis. To remain viable as a business, we simply have to consider whether or not a journey to a cemetery solely to provide a quote can be justified.

We do hope potential customers understand the situation and can provide us with images of their memorials or be patient and wait until we are working in that particular cemetery. If we do need to charge a fee, we will only advise you of this before providing the quote and will not look at the memorial until you confirm it is ok to go ahead and make a payment, we do aim to keep costs to a minimum if costs do need to be applied. If you do have any queries though please do not hesitate to contact us, we welcome all enquiries.